“After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15 Laban said to him, ‘Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.’16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder one was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, ‘I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.’19 Laban said, ‘It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.’ 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.21 Then Jacob said to Laban, ‘Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.’22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24 And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, ‘What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?’26 Laban replied, ‘It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the elder one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.’28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. 30 Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.” NIV

You have to say this is one of the great lines in Genesis. So full of ironic humour. It must have been quite a party too for Jacob not to know he’d been duped until the morning. Maybe the combination of the darkness, wine and Leah’s veil made Laban’s deception all the more effective. Someone suggested that when Jacob said, ‘’Give me my wife’’ (22), he should have been more specific!

Jacob more than met his match in his slippery, wily Uncle Laban. If this was indeed the custom (26,27) why did he not mention it earlier? Jacob’s question to his uncle in (25): ‘’Why have you deceived me?’’ should be cross-referenced with Genesis 27:35,36. The deceiver was himself deceived. He had a most unpleasant taste of his own medicine, reaping something of what he had sown.

But, they say ‘love conquers all’, and Jacob’s deep love for Rachel motivated him to work long and hard to have her (20,30).

By the way, although we do find examples of polygamy in the Bible, and it does seem to have been permitted, it is never commanded. It is not the divine order of things. More than once we can see for ourselves that it’s not a good idea. In the words: ‘’Jacob…loved Rachel more than Leah’’ (30) there are ominous rumblings. But even in bad things, God overrules.

‘Looking back, we can see God’s hand in ordering these events. Jacob got his just deserts for cheating Esau. God got six future tribes of Israel from Leah, and two more from, her maidservant Zilpah (verse 24). Once more, God used the schemings of sinful humans to further His larger purposes.’ Tom Hale: ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.174.

PRAYER: Lord, I pray you will keep my heart, my words and all my actions true and honest. Help me to reject every form of falsehood. I would be committed to truth.